Vocals can be some of the trickiest parts to record and mix in a song. In most cases, it's the lead part and you need it to stand out, sit right and sound good all at one time. In this article, we're going to offer a few suggestions to make your vocals do just that.
1) Using the right microphone
The easiest way to make your vocals sound good is to use a good microphone for that person or voice. Many times, home studios will have one or two vocal microphones, so that makes an easy choice: the one that sounds the best! If you have a couple or are looking at expanding your locker for different clients, check out comparisons, read reviews and listen to the microphones. For certain voices, a $100 microphone will sound better than a $1000 microphone depending on the sound you are looking for.
2) Pop Filter
Using a pop filter will cut out a lot of the plosives in your voice. In many condenser microphones, the extra push of low-frequency air will over saturate the capsule, causing distortion within the microphone. Pop filters are designed to redirect the air away from the capsule, saving your recording. There are dozens of pop filters manufactured today for less than $25 street price like the SM Pro PS1
. This makes it an easy investment for better sounding vocals.
3) Keep your distance
The tendency with many engineers and artists new to the field is to get as close to the microphone as possible. While it may sound more full due to the proximity effect, it can make mixing much more difficult. When singers get into the music and are not focused on distance from the mic, they start to sway to the sides and back away. The closer you are to a microphone, the bigger difference you will hear with any movement away from the original position. For good measure, try recording in three different positions. First, get right up on the mic, then about 6 inches away, then about a foot away. This takes very little time and can make a huge difference.
4) Treat your room as you would like to be treated
When you start backing far away from the mic, the room sound tends to blend in, and sometimes, take over. It is always a good idea to have some kind of room treatment or even a dedicated vocal booth. There are great options in all price ranges from the $99 Primacoustic VoxGuard VU
to the $299 Aston Halo
or even a $2000 room kit. The treatment will absorb the sound waves rather than letting them bounce around the room. When the reflections hit the microphone with the original signal (your voice) it causes phasing which will cut out crucial frequencies. Room reflections can ruin the sound of even the most amazing microphones.
5) Using the right preamp
I once met an engineer who said, "my favorite way to EQ a vocal is to use the right microphone with the right preamp." Although many audio interfaces have clean built-in preamps, their sound can't compare to a standalone hardware unit. Standalone preamps are great because they typically have more headroom, better components (due to having more space and power), and can add a different color to the sound that you can't get with anything else. There are even some channel strips that give you a compressor and EQ for really impressive prices. My personal favorite channel for under $1000 is the PreSonus RC500
. If this list was helpful, be sure to check out our other articles here
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